Note: This vignette was written to commemorate those who
were lost in the atrocities of September 11th, 2001 in the attack
on New York's World Trade Centre.
They filed into the large chamber much like they did on every other
special occasion. Except now there were no easy smiles, no pleasant
chatter. Not this day. This was not a day for celebration. The group
moved silently - somberly - some clasping hands, others with their
arms wrapped comfortingly around another's shoulders.
Vincent stood at the large doors guarding the Great Hall's entrance,
only the light of his torch illuminating the solemn figures that passed
by. Ashen-faced tunnel dwellers and Helpers stepped into the Hall;
some wept openly while others fought against their own rising emotions.
Even now, after so much time had passed, the wound was still raw.
So much hatred
so much pain
so much death. How could
it not be?
Once the last member of their small, but tight, community had entered,
Vincent sought out the face of the head of their group, their Father.
The older man's face was weathered and weary; Vincent suspected he'd
aged a year or more for every month that had passed since that awful
day. Despondent eyes met his own and Father glanced at the antique
timepiece that was a treasured Christmas gift from some of the children
living Below. A few seconds passed and the older man nodded, giving
his son the cue that it was time. Vincent extinguished the torch and
the room was shrouded in darkness.
Eight forty-six in the morning on September Eleventh. Funny how a
time can be forever etched in your memory - how you remember exactly
where you were and what you were doing at such a precise moment in
time. As they'd prepared for this day in the preceding weeks, that
was the one thing that everyone recalled with perfect clarity. Where
they had been
and the devastation that fell upon them just
as the ashen remains of the twin towers fell to blanket the ground
in lower Manhattan.
Vincent's eyes adjusted to the blackness and he moved to take his
place among the mourners. Each person reached out and took the hand
of the neighbor on either side of them, forming a human chain - a
circle of love and hope. He moved to Father's side, taking the hand
of the man who raised him from a babe into his own; then turned to
Where she stood
the woman he loved above all else - the woman
who declared her love with every breath, every touch, every kiss.
His Catherine - the love he cherished even more now than before, if
that were possible. He took her left hand gently into his right and
placed it firmly to his heart, reminding her that it belonged to her.
"Just as our world here Below began in darkness, the world Above
was born again from darkness one year ago." Father's voice rang
out clear and strong. "An act of immeasurable and unimaginable
hostility was inflicted upon our friends Above - upon all of us -
on that day. Taking away our often idyllic existence, our sense of
security even amongst all the evils we've faced in our lives
the very hearts, still beating, from our chests. Ripping loved ones
from their families. And leaving those of us behind asking why."
The light of a single candle burst through and pushed the darkness
back. It shone brightly upon Vincent's majestic face as he took a
deep breath and spoke softly in his deep-toned voice. "As this
candle provides a beacon for us in this dark place, those Above had
a beacon of their own to cling to in the wake of that devastation.
That beacon was Love. Love for family, love for a friend, love for
a stranger. The nation came together - as we have now - to pray, to
assist, to grieve. To show those that would wish to destroy us just
what an unattainable task that would be. This country is not infallible
- September Eleventh brought that truth home more than any other.
But our Spirit is unwavering. And no amount of treachery or evil will
ever be able to shatter that Spirit."
"We come together today to remember," Catherine recited
reverently as Vincent squeezed her hand. "To remember and mourn
those that were lost; friends and Helpers who are no longer with us,
and those we did not know but whose selfless acts have forever enriched
our lives. It is for them that we stand here, firm in our resolve
that they will never be forgotten."
Mary stood to Father's left, her face awash with tears. Still, when
she spoke, her voice was calm and steady. "Our lives were forever
changed in a single instant. But what we take away from this terrible
tragedy is our undying love - for each other
and our fellow man.
Cherish each other. Cherish every moment and make each count. Time
is a precious gift that should not be wasted. Let us ensure that it
The simple ceremony concluded with hugs and kisses as people slowly
began to filter back toward their living quarters. Catherine slipped
into Vincent's welcoming arms and they stood there in silent reflection.
The previous evening both had traveled down to southern Manhattan,
Catherine recognizing Vincent's need to visit the site. To pay his
own respects to those that were lost. It was not an easy task to get
Vincent near Ground Zero unnoticed. But one which both felt was too
important not to accomplish. So they had stood, as they were standing
now, far enough away to be unobtrusive, but close enough to see the
place where two towers of steel once stood proudly. They'd bowed their
heads in silent prayer and then made their way back to the tunnels.
To their family.
Catherine looked up into those brilliant blue eyes and whispered
softly as they made their way toward the doors, Vincent holding onto
the only source of light in the expansive room. "As dark as this
room is, Vincent, that one tiny candle burned so brightly that no
other was needed."
"It was not only the candle that illuminated this room, Catherine.
It was Love. Love burns brighter than any candle ever could."
He hugged her tightly and led her back home.
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